10 Jun 2020

Details are emerging of the complex upgrade programme for Rotterdam’s Van Brienenoord Bridge, the busiest bridge in The Netherlands with daily traffic of around 230,000 vehicles. Carrying 12 lanes of traffic of the country’s busiest highway, the A16, the twin-tied arch bridge has come under pressure amid a significant increase in traffic over recent years.

Refurbished bridge

The Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, confirmed details of the major infrastructure upgrade on Tuesday 9 June. Opened in 1965, the east-bound bridge will be entirely removed and replaced by the refurbished, 30-year old western bridge. A newly designed arch bridge will be built offsite and ‘installed’ to replace the western arch.

A circular economy approach for infrastructure

Royal HaskoningDHV and Arup (Managing Contractor) have been working with the country’s Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), over the last ten years as part of a nation-wide programme to assess and extend the lifespan of bridges sustainably. RWS embraced the proposed design solution, a leading example of how to adopt a circular economy approach in large-scale infrastructure upgrades.

Ageing infrastructure is a growing challenge across many developed economies, with highways and bridges coming under pressure as they near the end of their lifespan amid rising traffic volumes.

“Replacing the arched bridges will be a military operation; safe, fast, precise and in close collaboration with all stakeholders in the chain.”

Frans de Graaf, project leader Van Brienenoord Bridge at Royal HaskoningDHV, and Niels Willemsen, project manager Managing Contractor at Royal HaskoningDHV

Minimum traffic disruption

The upgrade works at Van Brienenoord Bridge are earmarked to start in the summer of 2025, running up until 2027. Works will be mostly scheduled during the summertime to minimise traffic disruption.

Arup’s design leader Daan Tjepkema and technical manager Sabine Delrue said: “This creative solution allows us to preserve one of Rotterdam’s most iconic bridges in a technically sound and cost-effective manner. Embracing circular economy principles, the refurbishment and re-use of western arch is one of the earliest examples of this sustainable design approach in large infrastructure projects”.